Is Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, the 22-year-old model who has accused Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexually assaulting her, a harlot hungry for the rewards of blackmail or the innocent victim of powerful, wealthy older men who have long sexually exploited her?
The media and her lawyers can’t seem to make up their minds.
Splashed across the New York Post with her tanned breasts oozing out of a black bra and her ripped barely-there shorts revealing her perfectly toned thighs, Battilana is the image of the perfect she-devil.
The 22-year-old Italian model who says Weinstein groped her breasts and reached under her skirt looks exactly like the kind of woman that men are warned against—one of those girls that trap you with their sexual allure and ruin you with false claims.
Of course, just to make sure the insinuation was clear, the Post added the headline “Secret Life of Harvey’s Shy Accuser.”
The article details how in 2011, Battilana “offered lurid testimony” about former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s “bunga bunga” parties.
She subsequently sued Berlusconi’s cronies for damage to her reputation, a reputation that the Post seems all too ready to drag through the mud. For good measure, the text is interspersed with plenty of photos from Battilana’s Instagram of the Miss Italy contestant in a bikini.
The MailOnline casts Battilana in a similar vein in an article laden with even more salacious shots of Battilana topless and strutting half-naked in her pageant stash.
The lengthy headline “Weinstein model used the $227 ticket he gave her to see his Broadway show the day AFTER she alleged he groped her…’ despite knowing he would be there” could have simply been shortened to “Don’t trust this gold-digging tramp.”
But for all the coverage insinuating Battilana is just trading on her sexuality to blackmail an older man out of some fast millions, she is also being portrayed as the casting couch victim.
The young, beautiful, wide-eyed woman who falls prey to Hollywood’s lusty male elite is a tale we know all too well—and Battilana’s camp knows that, too.
“This is the old Hollywood story that’s been told over and over, and it’s a very tragic one,” Battilana’s lawyer, Mark Heller, told the New York Daily News. “This lady is a 22-year-old who has put her faith in America as her future.”
In a different article in the Daily News, Battilana’s ex-boyfriend Marcello Cassano describes her as a “victim of her beauty.”
He recounts Battilana’s impoverished upbringing and her sexual assault suit against a 70-year-old Italian businessman, known only as Mr. G, who Battilana claimed forced her into having sex in exchange for money when she was 18.
“She’s a good person, but she suffered so much,” he said.
Yet, he also suggested that Battilana is not above using her beauty to blackmail, casting his own notes of doubts on possible ulterior motives.
“I don’t know what to think. She’s a self-made woman and a good person, but at the same time, she’s really competitive and ambitious,’ he told the Daily News.
What we’re left with are two warring and utterly one-dimensional images of Battilana: the sexually-cunning gold-digger and the casting couch victim who is too pretty for her own good.
It’s a binary women have been forced into for decades, or arguably, since the beginning of time: Are you a Jackie or a Marilyn? Are you a madonna or whore?
Absent from these media depictions are any nuances that show Battilana as a dynamic, complex adult.
She cannot be conceived as simultaneously embracing her sexuality and beauty and being a victim of assault.
Her claims against Weinstein can’t be accepted as legitimate unless she is seen as either naïve and doe-eyed at one extreme, or aggressive and grasping at the other. It serves not only the media, but both Battilana’s and Weinstein’s camps to portray her as either Gone Girl or Snow White.
However, it is neither fair to alleged victims nor the accused to keep perpetuating this binary. The reality is that any alleged crime behind closed doors is rarely black-and-white.